New York's First Green Flag Eco-School Recognized in Sleepy Hollow
Recycling rate increase, campaign against plastic bags highlight school's efforts
Sleepy Hollow Middle School was recognized today for its commitment to sustainability as only the country’s sixth Green Flag school by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program. This honor comes only weeks after Sleepy Hollow was named one of the Department of Education’s 78 inaugural U.S. Green Ribbon Schools. Only two schools in the country can claim both honors, and Sleepy Hollow is the only public school. Elizabeth Soper, Associate Director of Eco-Schools USA, visited to officially commemorate the achievement and raise the Green Flag, with guests in attendance.
To get this far, Sleepy Hollow underwent energy and waste audits; engineered a 40% recycling rate increase; planted vegetable gardens; installed light sensors and energy conservation signage in all classrooms; and launched its signature achievement, an ambitious ‘Bag It’ campaign to reduce plastic bag usage in the region (it led to an ordinance in Rye, NY, banning the use of plastic bags for retail checkout, and a reported 20% decline in bag usage in area grocery stores).
The school has proven its green bona fides on a national level, and its achievements speak to a broader trend toward school greening. Sleepy Hollow was previously awarded at the Silver level, the penultimate award, by Eco-Schools USA, and it was one of three New York State public schools nominated for the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon.
National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program recognizes schools for exceptional achievement in ‘greening’ the facilities, grounds, conserving natural resources and integrating environmental education into the curricula and student experience. Over 1,200 schools have implemented the Eco-Schools USA program since NWF became the host in late 2008 (New York state boasts 59 total Eco-Schools).
How to Become an Eco-School
Through school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools combines effective "green" management of the school grounds, facilities and the curriculum.